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Author Topic: GMRS vs Amatuer 2m/70cm  (Read 2485 times)
WTXW967
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« on: June 25, 2003, 02:04:00 PM »

I just recently got a FRS/GMRS radio and licnece. Now I'm wondering if I would of been better off with amateur 2m/70 cm. My main interest at present is in a HT. I am some what disappoint in the range of the GMRS. It seems to be limited to about a mile or two. Would amateur bands give me better range.

Thanks

Bob
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KB9YKY
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2003, 02:11:50 PM »

Before you worry about the range of a walkie-talkie, you need to know for what PURPOSE you want the walkie-talkie for. The General Radio Service and the Amateur Radio Service have completely different intended PURPOSES. What exactly are you wanting to do with a walkie-talkie?
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WTXW967
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2003, 02:26:35 PM »

I've been thinking of a number of different uses (maybe that is why I'm not sure of which service would be best).  So I'll just list a couple of the things that I think I might use radio communictions for.

1) Keeping track of kids around the camp site.
2) Letting my better half get a hold of me when I'm out fishing in areas with no cell phone service.
3) Being able to get help or help in an emergency.
4) Start a new hobby and make new friends.

bob
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KB9YKY
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2003, 02:43:02 PM »

For 1& 2 use FRS, GMRS, or Class D "CB".  For 3 do not plan on using any walkie-talkie unless you know for sure that someone will be very close to you and be monitoring constantly. For 4, the Amateur Radio Service is the only service where hobby type use is legal.
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WTXW967
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2003, 03:02:00 PM »

So it seems for my interests I would need both Amaeur and GMRS/FRS. I have a question about not using a HT in an emergency. I would assume a HT would be better than none? What kind of range can one reasonable expect from a 2m amateur HT when contacting another HT or a repeater?
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WA9SVD
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2003, 05:14:03 PM »

For #1, FRS is your best bet; the cost of the radios is reasonable to let each kid have one, and if they lose it/drop it in the lake/etc. it's not a great expense.
For #2, it's a tough call; it you are distant enough to be out of cell phone contact, a hand-held of any type may not be much help either.  (Unless as stated, there will be someone close by monitoring.  But if your significant other is in L.A., and you are off fishing a couple of hundred miles away, you will most likely have a problem, and FRS/GMRS won't help at all, and I certainly wouldn't rely on anything like a CB "walkie Talkie.)
    For #3, if you are concerned with obtaining emergency help, FRS is usually out due to it's short range; GMRS might be a possibility; CB might also be a possibility, especially if you are on the road.  IF you have an Amateur Radio License, that might also be a possibility.  To provide assistance, it would depend upon the situation and whether other individuals are involved, and use similar equipment.

For situation #4, Amateur Radio is absolutely the way to go!  You will be amazed at the new possibilities that open to you, you can make new friends, literally talk all over the world, and do it all legally.  Consider exploring the world of Amateur Radio.  (And I'm amazed: YKY and I actually agree on something!)
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N5CTI
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2003, 05:23:50 PM »

Personally, I'd fine-tune some of Joe's answers:

1) I agree.
2) If your wife gets an Amateur license, Amateur would work at least as well as GMRS. This depends to a great extent on the distance and terrain, but Amateur 70cm is virtually no different from GMRS, all else being equal, but it's much easier to find equipment that you can mix-and-match to maximize your effectiveness with Amateur radios, and generally speaking, more output power is available for the Amateur as well.
3) As with #2, much depends on where you are and the surrounding terrain. Usually, if you're within 10 to 20 miles of an Amateur repeater, you can get through, and there's a much stronger likelihood that someone will be reachable through the repeater than having someone within the simplex range of your GMRS radio.
4) Depends on your definition of "hobby." Be sure to understand the allowable uses of GMRS, which are more limited than some might think. But if your desires fall within those limitations, you can use GMRS as a hobby.

My opinion is it's worthwhile to have both licenses.

73,

Boyd / N5CTI / WPVS546
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WTXW967
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2003, 05:34:15 PM »

Thanks for everyone's help. It sounds like what I really need is both. Darn, I knew I shouldn't of let my General expire, so long ago.

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WA9SVD
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2003, 03:24:38 AM »

Did you ever have a Novice license?  Or an old Tech, where you had to take the code exam?  If you can prove it to a volunteer examiner, (old license or some accept an old callbook entry) all you have to do is take the written exam elements to get your license back!  And if not, the code is now 5 WPM for all class licenses.  Consider coming back into the Amateur ranks!  You will have the best of all (radio) worlds!
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WPXW967
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2003, 01:53:09 PM »

It was more than 20 years ago when I had my licence. If I remember right the code was 5 wpm for my novice and 15 wpm for my general. I had to go to an FCC organized test at that time. Now it sounds like almost any Ham club can give the tests. It also sounds like they publish a pool of questions that they choose the the exam questions from. Is this right?

Getting back to my original question, what is the range that can be expected from a 2m HT. In looking though the archives it seems to be on the order of 5 miles unless you can reach a repeater. In my area there seem to be a number of repeaters so my range could be much longer.

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WA9SVD
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2003, 02:18:44 AM »

If you can prove (by means of an old Novice license, or being listed in an old callbook) you will qualify for the CW requirement and not have to pass it again.  The theory tests shouldn't be a problem, so you can get your old General privileges back quite easily.  I know that doesn't answer your exact question.

    2M coverage will depend upon elevation as well as distance.  That's why many of us can "hit" a repeater that's 30,50, or even 70 miles away.  (Remember, from "your station to repeater input" is STILL the same as simplex, and thought to be "line of sight.")  That's why most repeaters are located on a high tower, or well up the side of a mountain.  So there's no simple answer to your question.  It will depend upon the location and terrain where you are operating.  And the same principles would apply to GMRS and FRS.
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KC0QFP
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2003, 06:31:46 PM »

I will say this that if you can find the information that proves you once had your amateur license and can get it reinstated by taking the test, go for it. I thought getting a GMRS license would be a good thing but in the area that I live there is hardly any GMRS traffic and even the local County EOC has practically given up the ghost on their GMRS repeater (problems with unlicensed folks causing interference and the such has pretty much destroyed its use). I probably wasted $75 good bucks getting WPWH650 that could have been used to buying ham equipment. I'm glad that a couple of co-workers pestered me to finally get my license cause it has proved to be wonderful to get into a hobby that I have wanted to get into for almost 25 years.

If the kids need something to use while out at the campsite, by all means get some FRS/GMRS radios (if you have the GMRS license, it will cover them too). They are cheap and relatively as easy to use as the old channel 14 walkie talkies I used as a kid. You could also try and interest the kids into becoming hams as well. Get everyone in the family into the hobby and have a world of fun. Might be fun to get everyone together to study for the exam besides watching the idiot box during summer rerun season.

Max
KC0QFP
WPWH650
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